There are 10 U.S. Senate races that are toss-ups with the candidates within five points of each other and no candidate polling over 50%.
- Approval ratings for both parties are at historic lows.
- Confidence in Congress to solve even minor problems is at a historic low.
- There has been more money spent on midterm elections than ever before. By a lot.
- Voter enthusiasm and engagement is significantly lower than 2006 or 2010 midterms.
- That is a recipe for unpredictability.
In recent weeks, polling has tightened in two races that had been considered likely to go Republican - South Dakota and Georgia. Other races that had already been considered competitive are seeming even more so in the closing weeks.
In a typical election cycle, there are four or five Senate races that are considered highly competitive. This year, there are 10. Two held by Republicans and eight held by Democrats. Two additional Democratic held seats in Montana and West Virginia are likely to switch to Republican control. If that happens, Republicans would need to net four additional seats to take control of the Senate.
If Republicans lose either Georgia or Kansas, currently held by Republicans, it makes it very difficult for them to win a majority in the Senate. The seats that have long been considered competitive, currently held by Democrats all remain so. Arkansas, Alaska, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Dakota are states all carried by Mitt Romney in 2012 with Democratic incumbents and have been top Republican targets for over a year. Other Democratic held seats that could go either way include Iowa, Colorado and New Hampshire.
Polling averages in ALL of these races have less than a five point difference between the top candidates and none have a candidate breaking 50%. With less than two weeks to go, that is truly unprecedented.
In a political environment where both parties' approval ratings and public confidence in the ability of Congress to solve even minor problems has dwindled to record low levels, there is such broad dissatisfaction with Washington and politics, it makes for a very volatile electorate. Polling results are increasingly unreliable and even more so in an unpredictable, low turnout, mid-term election. The result is less clarity about what may happen on Election Day than at any time in recent history.
We have seen some unexpected results already, most notably the surprise loss of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in his primary. More such surprises are likely in store for November 4.
With voter enthusiasm at such low levels and so many races that could go either way, engaging and mobilizing your workforce is more important than ever and allows your voice to be magnified so much more in determining the result of these elections. In the closing days of one of the wildest and most unpredictable elections cycles in a long time, your leadership in employee engagement is critical.